EU bans most Russian oil imports to ‘stop Putin’s war machine’

World

The EU has agreed to ban around 75% of Russian oil imports.

The embargo covers Russian oil brought in by sea – but has a temporary exception for imports delivered by pipeline to appease Hungary and other countries concerned about the economic impact of a full ban.

Hungary gets more than 60% of its oil from Russia and relies on crude that comes from the Soviet-era Druzhba (“Friendship”) pipeline.

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Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said: “We want to revert to the European Council as soon as
possible in order to address this temporary exception and to make sure that we will be able to target all the Russian oil.”

He added that 75% of Russian oil imports to the EU would be immediately banned – rising to 90% by the end of the year.

The sixth EU sanctions package since the invasion of Ukraine will also see Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, cut off from SWIFT, the major global system for financial transfers from which the EU previously banned several smaller Russian banks.

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“We want to stop Russia’s war machine,” Mr Michel said, calling the new measures a “remarkable achievement”.

“More than ever it’s important to show that we are able to be strong, that we are able to be firm, that we are able to be tough,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the move, saying: “As Europeans, united and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we are taking new decisive sanctions.”

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‘Russia concentrating their forces’

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it has taken too long to agree new sanctions in Europe, pointing out that the last package was introduced nearly two months ago.

In an address to the Ukrainian people, he said he was grateful to Mr Michel for “trying to find the necessary compromises” to make the measures possible, adding: “Russia must feel a much higher price for its aggression.

“The key point is, of course, the oil. I believe that Europe will have to give up Russian oil and oil products in any case.

“Because this is about the independence of Europeans themselves from Russian energy weapons.

“And the sooner this happens, the more complete the abandonment of Russian oil will be, the greater the benefit will be for Europe itself in the end.”

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Read more: Oil prices surge as EU meets to discuss Russian energy ban

The new sanctions will be legally endorsed by Wednesday, Mr Michel said.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna, responded to the EU’s decision on Twitter, saying: “Russia will find other importers.”

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The measures had been announced on 4 May but were held up by objections from countries including Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

The initial aim had been to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

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